LARGO, Fla. - Ronald Brown's case may seem like a slam dunk for prosecutors.
They have submitted evidence against the Largo puppeteer that includes pornographic images of children as well as transcripts of an alleged online chat, during which detectives say the 57-year-old tells a man from Kansas that he likes to imagine killing kids, cutting them up, and eating them piece by piece.
"Can't wait to see the horror in the child's eyes, can't wait to see them being fearful," explained Dr. Valerie McClain. "It's that person taking pleasure in the terror of the victim."
Dr. McClain, a psychologist who has analyzed several high-profile criminal cases, says the transcripts -- filled with details about the Largo puppeteer binding and suffocating children, even cooking them in an oven -- make the fantasy one that borders on criminal reality.
"Taking a body part, mutilating, eating that body part. That's a pretty detailed plan," she said. "Then it becomes a situation where the impulse basically dominates reality."
Homeland Security agents raided Brown's mobile home for the second time Thursday night, but they have yet to release any evidence he ever acted on what they claim he typed. Brown faces child pornography charges as well as conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
"They're going to have to prove that these defendants took a step beyond just mere fantasy," explained defense attorney Mark O'Brien.
O'Brien believes the allegations certainly would make the professional puppet master more offensive to a jury, but they may not be enough to convict him of conspiracy.
"We prosecute people when they commit crimes," O'Brien said. "We cannot prosecute people for simply being offensive."
According to HSI agents, the Kansas man with whom Brown chatted actually traveled to Florida and tried to contact him, but Brown claims he didn't respond. Still, in their prior chats, the men name an actual victim in a mobile home park.
The conspiracy case first has to pass a federal judge in order to move forward to a jury trial. If that happens, despite the possibility of somewhat deficient evidence regarding a plotted crime, O'Brien believes the fantasy itself makes it more likely jurors might side with emotion over evidence.
"I think it almost becomes a slam dunk with the jury because the nature of the charges is just so offensive," O'Brien said.
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